Confusing Good with Respected

Taste’s of a King

Human beings are relentlessly status seeking, and we are voracious consumers of novelty. These two things combine in weird ways when people talk about art.

You hear people leaving movie theatres saying bizarre things like “Yeah I really liked that movie but I wouldn’t consider it Good”. This is madness! Clearly if you enjoy a thing then that thing is good, that’s the best definition of “good” that I can think of.

But there are cases when you would be wise to couch your praise for fear of seeming a rube! We are all always, subconsciously, attempting to raise other’s opinion of us on pretty much every topic imaginable and when we can’t do it honestly we fake it. That’s why you didn’t ask the teacher questions in high-school if you were truly lost (unless you were confident that everyone else was also lost).

This means we all want to have “sophisticated” tastes in movies, painting, wine, music, games, everything. But what is “sophisticated” is what is liked by the medium’s Ultra Fans. People who devote all their spare time, or even their lives, to a topic. I am a games Ultra Fan, but I am not a wine or music Ultra Fan and hence I behave oddly around wine and music. I have actually caught myself looking up reviews for an album before suggesting it to a friend lest my taste turn out to be “incorrect”. I am very uncomfortable at wine-tastings because of the chance that my lack of wine-sophistication will be uncovered, even though it’s totally normal to not know anything about wine!

It’s also why people have “guilty pleasures”, songs they listen to in their headphones but don’t want people to know they like because the song is beneath their tastes.

There are times where you will profess ignorance and things I profess a proud ignorance of, like cars and sports, but that’s also status seeking “oh cars? I enjoy more intellectual pursuits thank you”.

A lot of the time we are trying to seem as sophisticated as possible, which is always more sophisticated than you actually are, so we deny our love of things that we think an Ultra Fan might not like. Ultra Fans used to like summer blockbusters, they were 13 once, and loved them (maybe only secretly) but the price of our voracious lust for novelty is that Ultra Fans get bored. They’ve seen a lot of action movies, rom-coms, slashers, and those movies have lost their novelty. So the best way to seem like an Ultra Fan is to think something is boring. To fake cool your default stance on everything should be boredom, because no matter how good something is you can always claim you’re above it.

This is offset by people wanting to gush about things they actually genuinely enjoy hence the “I liked it but I wouldn’t say it was a Good movie”. Simultaneously expressing your joy and couching it lest someone think you are unsophisticated.

We do the reverse sometimes and say something is “wonderful” if we think an Ultra Fan would like it, which is why total nonsense can be highly praised. If you don’t understand it then it must be for a more sophisticated audience than you and by praising it you appear to be part of that audience.

I was going to end this with a whole paragraph defending myself from accusations of extreme vanity, but that would just be more status seeking. I’ll let you decide for yourself, just as you should with whatever movie you watch next or game you play. If you like it, just say so.

2 thoughts on “Confusing Good with Respected

  1. Enjoyed the article. Did you just secretly admit you DID like Independence Day (aka ID4) when it came out?

    I would have liked to see a list of embarrassing “likes” at the end of this, to see you lead by example.

    “That’s right I like Survivor, certain Beyonce songs, and Cranium”.

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